Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Malaysian English Teachers' Debate 2008

No matter how many times I've been involved (directly or indirectly) in a debate competition, I always get them butterflies in my stomach. Right now, I'm developing a butterfly colony. Complete with flyovers and helipads.

The Sabah teachers' debate team are sitting in a Malaccan hotel right now, doing mock debates and trying to outwit each other. Sometimes these sessions frighten those who've never seen such a gathering. Sometimes the wounded storm off in a fury. That usually means it's time for coach to have a coffee break with said wounded. But managed very well, such a team can produce such beautiful verbal pyrotechnics onstage.

Malaysian teacher debates are usually formal and rational ones. So everyone dresses accordingly in dark suits, strongly supported points and coolly sarcastic tongues. Unlike the Malay debate, the English debate relies more on verbal sleight of hand. Some would say verbal diarrhea. But personally I like what one friend said...verbal twitchery. I think she was aiming for 'witchery' but twitch will do pretty fine. Hee hee hee...

But the most memorable twitch I'd ever heard was a politically incorrect one, when the La Salle boys went up against the St. Francis girls and after a long winded lambasting of the boys with statistics, one of the boys got up and said,"Ah but statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital." During practice, that was the very quotation I'd pulled out to entertain them and which I said they MUSTN'T use. But I suppose the overabundance of statistics tempted the poor boy beyond endurance. Sitting in the audience, I tried to hide as I was fully aware of St Francis girls' homicidal tendencies (being one myself).

The girls' outrage lasted for at least a year...

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